The purpose of life. At least the purpose of my life. What can it possibly be? What can it possibly mean? Now there’s a topic worth a paragraph or two.
On Wednesday evening my men’s group is going to discuss “purpose”. So I’ve been thinking about it a bit, but only a bit because it’s not a topic that particularly intrigues me. I can see its attraction, but I’m personally not attracted to it. Never have been that I can remember.
It’s obvious that anyone’s purpose is whatever they say it is. Unless you believe in fate or various supernatural things in the sky your purpose must be arbitrary. You make it up, or perhaps you don’t. I can imagine being given an assignment to write, on a single A4 sheet of paper, in my own hand, what my life’s purpose is. I’m sure I could come up with something, and it would probably sound pretty good and impressive. But would it be my life’s purpose? Probably not. Having written that page I could use whatever I’d written as something to live into, but I probably wouldn’t. It’s just not how I operate.
When I was young I assumed that at some point I’d find myself. I thought I’d meet someone older than me who would become my mentor and out of that relationship I’d find a direction for my life. I’d know what I wanted to do and I’d have the guidance I needed to do it. I was quite confident that something like that would happen; it seemed to me to be the natural order of things. I have no idea where I got that idea, perhaps some movie, because I can’t think of anyone I know for whom that happened. Time went on and it continued to not happen. I put off working out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I did whatever came my way. I fell into careers, relationships and homes because they presented themselves to me. I didn’t pursue a direction in my life. The direction I took was my life. It wasn’t informed by any sense of purpose.
There seem to be people who know what their purpose is. I imagine that they knew it very young and never let it go. You read about them all the time; someone who looked into a telescope at 7 years old and knew from that day forward that she wanted to be an astronomer. Or they discovered dancing or acting or writing or horses when they were young and their lives because a process of fulfilling the purpose they embraced as children. I envy those people. It must be wonderful to know what you want. To have always known what you want.
I can’t imagine making up a purpose as an intellectual exercise and then living into it. If I tried to do that I’m sure my creation would remain in a world of abstraction, of should and would and perhaps and I ought to. It’s simply not the way I roll.
I think that my purpose is whatever I do; my family, relationships, passions, work and interests. Whatever puts a twinkle in my eye or makes me wonder or think. Whoever touches my heart. All of that is the fabric of my life. Whatever purpose I have is a outcome of weaving that fabric. That’s as close as I get to my purpose.